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(PT1) Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

Editor's note: The overwhelming majority of people in religious life who have been accused of sexual abuse have been men. Credible accusations have also been made against women religious, but there has been relatively little coverage of those cases. As an independent, nonprofit source of news and information about Catholic sisters, Global Sisters Report devotes most of its resources to the good work sisters perform around the world. But we're committed to telling the full story of women religious, and that includes stories like this one. This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Part 2 will publish Feb. 25. — Gail DeGeorge, GSR editor Anne Gleeson was 12 years old when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Judith Fisher — her charismatic, redheaded history teacher at Immacolata School in Richmond Heights, Missouri — began singling her out for special attention. "She'd wander around the classroom, and she'd lean on my chair and press her fingers into my back. Or she'd send me a little note or leave a present in my desk," Gleeson, now 63, said. The secret, forbidden touches gave Gleeson shivers. She says the rape began in 1971 when she was 13, although it would take three decades and some therapy for her to recognize it as such. In Gleeson's adolescent mind, she was simply head over heels in love with a woman 24 years her senior. The sexual contact happened anywhere and everywhere, Gleeson said: in stairwells at the school, in Fisher's bedroom at the convent, on the overnight trips Fisher arranged with Gleeson's mother and another Sister of St. Joseph.


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